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Friday, 09 December 2016

G4S and Serco have contracts extended despite asylum seeker controversies

Written by The Press Association

The Home Office has extended its contract with G4S and Serco to provide asylum seekers with accommodation - despite controversy that some people were marked out by having their doors painted red.

Earlier this year, G4S had to repaint the doors of the asylum seekers it housed in Middlesbrough and Stockton after complaints the distinctive decoration made them targets for abuse, while Serco was forced to apologise after hiring a stretch limo to ferry a party of asylum seekers from London to Manchester.

Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill announced in a written statement that despite the controversies and criticisms from charities and MPs, the contracts will be extended to 2019.

He said he is "committed to ensuring that destitute asylum seekers are accommodated in safe, secure and suitable accommodation" and "are treated with dignity", and he added that improvements will be made.

He said: "Firstly I have increased the amount of money that the Home Office pays for the provision of welfare officers and staff property management.

"This is in direct response to feedback that more attention is needed to ensure that asylum seekers receive the welfare support they need and are able to raise any concerns they have with the accommodation providers.

"It will also ensure that property standards continue to be closely managed and further improved, and that sufficient suitable property is available.

"The money will only be available for the employment of additional resources engaged directly on these customer focused activities."

The Home Office will work with contractors to ensure they have enough homes and reduce the reliance on contingency arrangements - which include hotels.

He has also introduced a new higher price band for any increases in the number of asylum seekers requiring accommodation to allow providers to operate in wider areas.

He added: "The department will continue to monitor the providers closely to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the contract and work closely with non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and service users to respond to feedback and continue to improve the system."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c)  Owen Humphries / PA Wire.